One might ask – how does saving money or better yet, time appear in the same sentence as slow cooker. Well, I am here to tell you that investing in a good slow cooker, popularly known as a crock pot, can not only save you time, but money as well.
Who has the time to spend between juggling career and family on creating a not only healthy but amazing family dinner? You do.
The Non Cooking Channel
Most of us will agree that food network has revolutionized cooking. The days of Julia Child in the kitchen, spending hours upon hours to watch, research, and shop for the perfect dinner are long since over. Saving time and money without sacrificing quality is where it’s at these days.
Your slow cooker is now your new best friend. Slow cooking will give you the time and save you the energy that you need. Using a slow cooker to prepare the evening meal will result in a tasty, often gourmet meal your family desires and deserves. There are so many different types of entrees you can make and even alter to create your own.
The sky is the limit on what types of wonderful creations you can come up with. Start slow, puns intended and get the basics down. Everyday ingredients are all you will need.
The original crock-pot was introduced in 1971 by the Rival Corporation. Rival had acquired Naxon Utilities Corp. in 1970. Naxon had a neat little product called the “Bean Pot”. There are many choices out there these days when it comes to purchasing a slow cooker and crock-pot remains top on the list.
Many of us probably have some sort of slow cooker hanging around, perhaps passed down within the family. These conventional slow cookers all serve the same purpose, of slow cooking or keeping food warm. The basic function may not be exactly what is needed for the cooking needs of today. A simple on/off or even hi/lo setting may not cut it.
Traditionally you would have used your trusty slow cooker to bring meatballs or similar to a cookout or get together , plug it in and keep the dish nice and warm for hours allowing everyone to enjoy a nice hot appetizer. This is such a great convenience but most definitely not being used to its full capacity.
Timing is Everything
Today, the time formerly spent watching Julia Child in the kitchen, has turned into 8-10 hour working days. The good news is to make a great slow cooked meal you will need 8-10 hours of cooking time. It’s a marriage made in heaven.
Such favorites as corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day, ham dinner like at holidays, barbequed whole chicken or a nice pot roast are all at your disposal now. As you get the basics down to slow cooking you will find which recipes call for 8 versus the 10 hours. This is where the product itself comes into play.
Many slow cookers of today have features way beyond the, hi/lo setting. Digital timers, temperature settings, auto shift functions and internal thermometer meat probe features are just naming a few. You can now create your dish by setting the slow cooker to internal meal temp of 165 for the perfectly cooked roast.
Slow Cooking Tips
The low setting cooks at 200 degrees while the high setting cooks at 300 degrees. You will be using the low setting for your 8-10 hours of cooking for your meals as the high setting would simply burn the meal. The trick is to get the food to above 140 degrees as quickly as possible to avoid unsafe cooking conditions. If your crock pot isn’t at least 140 degrees within the first 4 hours you need to get a new one.
For every 1 hour of cooking on high equals 2 hours of cooking on low. A great method is to cook on high for the first hour to get the temperature up there and reduce to low the remainder. Things like seafood, certain spices such as hot sauce, cayenne pepper and dairy all shouldn’t be added until the last 30-60 minutes of cooking. Seafood will be rubbery if cooked too long and the spices tend to become bitter. Most other spices will just cook away most of their flavor if left in too long.
The best news of all is save money by purchasing the cheaper cuts of meat! That’s right – cheaper cuts of meat are less fatty and when cooked slowly become tender, juicy and full of flavor. You may wish to brown the exterior of your meat in a skillet before slow cooking. Browning your meat first will result in a great appearance. Bon appetite!
Tim Iandoli is a promising new freelance writer. He writes about personal finance, insurance, travel, food, wine and self-improvement. He's a master problem solver, restaurant critic, entrepreneur and all around fabulous guy.